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Ranks and Payscales

How should we remunerate defence personnel?

The current defence force suffers in a number of ways from a lack of clear identity. Compared to many defence forces (Singapore, Australia) it is small and ill-equipped for combat. However compared to other defence forces similarly geographically isolated from direct threat (Ireland) it has too much resource tied up in combat resources. This author believes that if the force had more focus in its unit structures and resourcing the morale problems would evaporate.

To achieve this however means re-structuring the defence force entirely into a single integrated force rather than one built around aping the traditional divisions of Great Britain's military on a tiny scale. Key to this is a new ranking and command structure.


The ranking structure of the integrated NZDF draws on the three services to produce a single integrated ranking system. However under the integrated system payscale is dictated by skills and risk not by rank. The problem has been that because all payscales are tied to rank to achieve a reasonable payscale personnel had to be promoted. The result was that by 2002 we had 990 captains and majors (out of a total of 8,776 personnel) and only 287 lieutenants.

Officer ranks

NATO Rank code
Integrated Force Title Examples
 Role Number
 OF-7 Commander-in-chief Commander NZDF
 +100k  Force 1
 OF-6 Commandants

Commodore (Operations)

Commodore Strategic Operations Force (SOF)
Commandant Tactical Operations Force (TOF)
Commandant NZ Arsenal and Logistics
Commandant NZ Military Academy

Commandant Intelligence Services

 +80k Staff and equipment meet requirements
 OF-5 Commanders

Commander Sealift Squadron
Commander OPV Squadron
Commander No.5 Squadron
Commander No 3 Squadron
Commander No 40 Squadron
Commander NZ 42 Squadron

Commander NZ Special Forces

Commander NZ Ranger Batt
Commander NZ Pioneer Batt
Commander NZ Marine Batt
Commander NZ Military Police
Commander NZ BioDefence
Commander NZ Motorised Batt
Commander Ceremonies

Commander SIS
Commander GCSB

Commander NZ Detachment (location)

Commander (Operation)

 +50k Deployment command
 OF-4 Captain
Captain (OC blue water ship)
Captain (OC international aircraft)
Captain (OC Company)
 +30k Engagement orders, unit readiness
 OF-3 Lieutenant

Lieutenant (OC inshore ship)
Lieutenant (OC helicopter)
Lieutenant (OC light aircraft)
Lieutenant (OC platoon)

 +15k Lethal force initiation under engagement orders
 OF-2 Sub-lieutenant Trainee lieutenant
 OF-1 Ensign Officer trainee

Enlisted ranks

NATO Rank code
 Integrated Title
OR-9 Sergeant-Major
Battalion top NCO
Master Sergeant
In charge of training sergeants and other NCOs
 +35k Training of personnel on criital equipment
OR-7  Warrant Officer
In charge of a technical speciality
 +30k Safety Critical systems
OR-6  Staff Sergeant
In charge of a technical speciality  +20k Safety Critical equipment
OR-5  Senior Sergeant
Training NCOs
Preparation of enlisted personnel
OR-4  Sergeant  Squad(6-8) leader
 +10k Return fire
 Corporal  Team (4) leader
 +5k Return fire
 Lance-Corporal Specialised equipment leader
 +2.5k Operating specialised equipment
 Private    +0  

Skills based remuneration

The objective of skills based remuneration is to encourage personnel to seek skills and to reward those in the defence force with skills in demand by the civilian world. The table below is broad-brush and obviously a more refined guide would be developed.
     Years    Examples
NCEA Level  0-2  3-5  6-10  11-15 16-20
 21-30  30+  
 25k  30k 35k  - -  -  -  Recruits
 3-4  27.5k  35k  40k  40k  50k  50k 50k
 5-6  30k  40k  50k  60k  70k  80k  90k  Trades qualified
 7 (degree or equiv)
 32.5k  45k  60k  70k  80k 90k  100k  Comms specialists
 8  -  50k  65k  75k  85k  95k  105k  Engineers
 9  -  60k  80k  95k  120k  150k  150k  
 10  -  70k  90k  120k  150k  175k  175k  Doctors

This assumes:
1) military skills are incorporated on the NCEA framework (most would end up on level 5-6)
2) Military personnel continue their education while in the NZDF
Given this most should end up in the 5-6 level
e.g NZSAS & Rangers (combat skills), MPs (Police skills), Pioneers (Trade skills).
Some units would have more unskilled than highly skilled: Marines (maritime skills), Motorised (driving skills), while others: Biodefence would have a wide range of skillsets.

Risk-based bonus remuneration

 Risk Level   Bonus
 3Regular deadly violence Combat briefings given
 2Occasional deadly violence Security briefings given
 1 Latent violence and insurgency Ammunition issued
 0 Non-violent Ammunition not issued